Worldview Weekend October 2009
By Tom DeWees
For years I have been issuing warnings about the growing government surveillance state. REAL ID and E-Verify have been sold as weapons necessary to stop illegal immigration and the threat of terrorism. Now, Congress says it has improved those weapons by creating the PASS Act.
Yet, while insisting these straight jackets for all citizens are needed to protect us, the government has refused to do the one thing that would actually reduce these threats - secure the borders. Homelandsecuritynewswire.com reports that the government has set a goal of capturing only 29% of people and goods entering our borders illegally. That's it. As I have warned, the mindset of the government is that it's much more efficient to put us all in chains than to try to actually catch the bad guys.
And so, the government is spending its resources (your money) spying on Americans, from monitoring our Face book pages to our credit card purchases. To make its intentions even clearer, The Department of Homeland Security has issued reports profiling nearly all Americans as potential domestic terrorists. And now, Barack Obama says he is considering "preventive detention" for those the government deems dangerous but are not yet ready to arrest. The government is now using biometric identification to monitor those who attend TEA Parties and other protests. Our right to object is being destroyed. This is government by intimidation. No free society can withstand it.
Yet, still, many Americans who profess to support limited government and individual liberty, allow themselves to be pulled in by those who tell you REAL ID and E-Verify will make us safer and freer. They refuse to understand that THEY are the target â€“ not illegals. What will it take America, to finally convince you? When will you begin to understand you are not being protected â€“ YOU ARE BEING HUNTED!
The following is the dramatic presentation by PA State Representative Sam Rohrer given to the recent Freedom 21 national conference in Oklahoma. Rep. Rohrer is one of the nation's leading experts on the dangers of biometric surveillance and intimidation. He issues the warning that government by surveillance intimidation is the threat that all Americans face. I hope you will heed it! ---Tom DeWeese, Editor
Real ID and the PASS Act America's Growing Surveillance Society
Address to the 10th Annual Freedom21 Conference - August 14, 2009
By PA State Representative Sam Rohrer
Since I addressed this convention last year about the same topic, much has changed while much has also remained the same. First, let me offer my congratulations and thanks to so many of you who have faithfully fought the good fight for freedom and against the dangerous provisions of REAL ID.
Thousands of hours have been spent resisting REAL ID and all it represents, and I stand before you now to say that those hours have not been spent in vain.
In all, legislative bodies in twenty-six states have spoken out against this government power grab.
Such a stunning reaction against federal legislation would not have been possible without the hard work of many in this room and many at this conference. Yet, while battles have been won, the war has not.
Today I'd like to provide an overview of where the REAL ID issue stands currently. Most of you probably know the problems associated with REAL ID and may have even heard my speech on this topic last year. (The DeWeese Report, Volume 14, Issue 9 - September 2008) My presentation this year has been geared as a continuation of what I presented last year.
First, I will set the philosophical stage that underlies much of the thinking behind REAL ID and similar ideas.
Next, I will briefly discuss fusion centers and their role in the coming American surveillance society.
From that point, I will focus on the 2009 version of REAL ID and discuss a range of related issues, pointing out significant threats to our personal privacy and security along the way.
I will close by offering my thoughts about the next steps we should each take in resisting REAL ID.
Let me start with this question, "Why is it that honest, law-abiding civilians are so worried about the federal government increasing its knowledge of citizens and their activities?"
After all, if you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to worry about, right? - WRONG!
Under true justice, this statement would be fairly accurate, but it no longer is. A basic reason is that the law enforcement and the terrorism fighting community have whole heartedly embraced a new and dangerous operating philosophy. Now the focus of the law enforcement community has changed to crime and terrorism prevention through the use of massive amounts of intelligence.
In fact, on May 21 of this year, a New York Times story noted, "President Obama told human rights advocates at the White House . . . that he was mulling the need for a 'preventive detention' system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried." This startling statement should stop us in our tracks â€“ preventive detention? What happened to the Constitution and its protections? You mean looking inside someone's head or heart and incarcerating him because someone thinks he might commit a crime in the future? Would this "preventive detention" apply to Americans accused of being right-wing extremists?
This emerging philosophy is known as "Intelligence-led Policing." Most proponents of this philosophy have come to believe that the more that is known about all people in general, the greater the chance to catch the criminal or terrorist at large in the community before he commits his act of terrorism or crime. In essence, cast the net broadly. Let me clearly state that I believe the causes of crime and terrorism should be a matter of focus.
However, I equally â€“ and just as strongly â€“ believe that law enforcement and intelligence goals must be balanced with the Constitutional rights of American citizens.
Granting government in any form including police too much authority will turn America into a police state where citizens are stripped of their constitutional rights and a presumption of guilt is established.
Focusing on the principle of individual autonomy derived from God-given rights, our Founders and subsequent court decisions established and confirmed this historic balance by agreeing that citizens must be presumed innocent until proven guilty "beyond reasonable doubt." The danger with the "Intelligence-led Policing" view is that, without the protection of this proper balance, the basic right of the presumption of innocence is destroyed, and with it our Freedom.
Because, once this foundational concept is discarded, like falling dominoes in a row, other major changes begin. The entire mindset in Washington has developed into a philosophy which advocates nearly total government knowledge of all citizens' information.
Fusion Centers and the Web of Intimidation
Such a transformation has been crystallized within the law enforcement community in the form of "fusion centers" and how they have operated in the years following 9/11. These amorphous institutions were created to simplify information transfer between local, state, and federal officials. In fact, the official Fusion Center Guidelines state: "The principal role of the fusion center is to compile, analyze, and disseminate criminal/terrorist information and intelligence . . . to support efforts to anticipate, identify, prevent, and/or monitor criminal/ terrorist activity.
You can easily spot the "Intelligence-led Policing" and "preventive detention" philosophies underpinning those guidelines, but more to my point is what these fusion centers have produced.
The Missouri Information and Analysis Fusion Center produced a document with which you may be familiar in February of this year called "The Modern Militia Movement."
This report, allegedly aimed to inform law enforcement officials throughout Missouri, actually linked militia members with supporters of third party political candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and others. This document smeared all supporters of those candidates as potentially dangerous militia members who might incite violence against law enforcement officers or government officials.
Another report issued by a Virginia Fusion Center noted that dangerous student radicalization could occur at colleges and universities, specifically two "Historically Black Colleges" and "Regent University, a private, evangelical Christian institution."
Both of these fusion center reports illustrate the danger of unbalanced "Intelligence-led Policing" and show more importantly why even those who do nothing wrong should be very worried when government has expansive knowledge and control. Should your daughter or granddaughter attending law school at Regent University have fewer rights because she chose a school based on its conservative religious beliefs? A centralized and top-heavy drive to prevent crime can easily result in such Constitutional violations.
Once these fundamental changes from assumed innocence to assumed guilt and law enforcement to preventative detention occur, freedom gives way to a surveillance society mentality, and the operational problems of fusion centers. But significant changes have occurred in other federal government initiatives which advance the surveillance society in America.
Keep Smiling or You May Be Locked Up
The first of these initiatives is nicknamed FAST (Future Attribute Screening Technology).
This technology uses an array of sensors to measure physiological characteristics such as heart rate, breathing rate, facial expressions, and pupil dilation to determine whether or not a person intends to commit a crime.
The Department of Homeland Security plans to implement this technology in airports and at major event locations. Again, you can see the emphasis on prevention underlying this massive privacy violation. People's heart rates climb and pupils dilate for a multitude of reasons. The real effect will be a massive loss of freedom as innocent Americans are detained for wearing the wrong facial expressions or showing nervousness about flying.
A second initiative is Enhanced Driver's Licenses (or EDLs). This is another portion of the federal government initiative built on Real ID which drastically increases federal government knowledge of everyday life.
These new licenses double as a passport with Mexico and Canada and contain an RFID chip that is read when any border is crossed. However, the significant convenience for the consumer is more than outweighed by the resulting privacy concerns.
As a recent Associated Press article noted, the RFID chips in Enhanced Driver's Licenses can be easily skimmed by someone holding a reader within thirty feet or more of the license.
As technology improves, these licenses will be readable from a much greater distance. Currently four states and two Canadian provinces issue these licenses, but more states and provinces will likely do so in the future. Enhanced driver's licenses are another topic entirely, but they serve to show increasing breadth of government knowledge and control over American citizens.